Shortly after 11 a.m. on Monday, Prince George’s County Fire Department responded to a call about an alarm sounding at 4300 Hartwick Road, also known as Terrapin Row, the new student housing development that opened this fall, PGFD spokesman Mark Brady said.
Residents of Terrapin Row’s Building A were asked to evacuate their apartments after firefighters discovered a carbon monoxide gas leak in the building, Brady said.
“We went out there for an alarm sounding and found that contractors were doing some work in the building using gasoline-powered equipment that generated carbon monoxide,” Brady said.
Firefighters on the scene measured a carbon monoxide rating of 35 PPM, which is “right at the level where it becomes unhealthy,” Brady said. In response to this level, the dispatched firefighters “started to ventilate the building,” Brady said, and as a precaution evacuated the building while continuing to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide inside.
PGFD evacuated more than 50 students from Building A shortly after 11 a.m., said junior Julie Larsen, a journalism major. The building was cleared by PGFD at about 12:40 p.m.
Sophomore Peri Fingerhut, a marketing major, said she and her friends called PGFD shortly after 11 a.m., and they responded within five to 10 minutes of their call.
“[I] probably got into the building five [minutes] after 11 a.m., and I went upstairs and the carbon monoxide alarms were going off so I went back downstairs into the lobby and a bunch of people were sitting there saying they’ve been going off since 10:30 in the morning,” Fingerhut said.
After Fingerhut found out the cause of the leak, she said she felt “frustrated.”
“I was a little bit concerned because obviously carbon monoxide is deadly and I didn’t want to die,” she said. “And now I’m just frustrated because we found out it was from construction … I asked [a worker] why they couldn’t do this construction when everyone left to go home for break, and he didn’t have an answer for me.”
Terrapin Row sent an email to residents at approximately 1:10 p.m. on Monday confirming the leak was due to “machines that were being used in the construction . . .” The email also confirmed residents were allowed back into their apartments as “the fire department has measured the level of carbon monoxide at 0ppm . . . “
PGFD has removed all of the gasoline powered equipment, which is believed to have caused the leak, Brady said, and they also verified there are no other leaks generating carbon monoxide in that building.
Nobody is reported to be sick at this time, but PGFD does have an ambulance standing by.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.